It’s 9:30 on a Saturday morning and I’ve cried my eyes out for the first time in what feels like a lifetime. All because of a dream. I can’t remember the last time I had a nightmare–probably freshman year, first semester. But even this was somehow worse. I didn’t wake up screaming or out of breath, no cold sweats. But after the initial shock, then came the panic, then came the tears. I still feel like I need someone to hold me and tell me everything will be okay. More accurately, I feel the need to go to someone else, and hug them fiercely, and make sure they’re okay.
The only thing she actually told me was that she might have to get surgery. Everything else, I was somehow attached to her. The doctors said they couldn’t do it because the site where they would be operating was too close to her “infectious disease center”, which was heated or inflamed. Even if they did operate, there was a very high risk of puncturing the infectious disease center, which would release toxins into her body and also cause her to bleed out. When they told her this, I could see her mental image of it–how she pictured herself cut open and bleeding out, dying on that cold metal table. I couldn’t feel much of it then, but maybe she couldn’t either.
She met with some funeral home representatives–the inside of the office was the same as too many I’d already seen before. Too much dark furniture, so many grey walls, except for the ones relieved by a half-dried-blood red. Carpet that was as plush as the velvet in the caskets they sold. But they didn’t discuss funeral arrangements, open casket or closed. They only said, “We could cremate you. Considering the expenses of the surgery and the liability that you’re more than likely going to die, cremation is a really good option.”
“Yeah, maybe for my aunt! I’m not getting cremated, and don’t talk to me as if I’m already dead!” She was outraged, and we both felt it that time. Some of it was me–I couldn’t quite imagine her body being burned, reduced to a pile of ashes in an urn. My own aunt said she would prefer to be cremated, and it’s something I’ve considered myself on many an occasion. But her? My best friend? No. I couldn’t lose her to whatever strange sickness warranted all of this, but that was the end of the dream. There were no answers. I didn’t know why she was sick in the first place–she looked and seemed perfectly healthy. It didn’t seem imperative that she have the surgery right away–it was almost like she had several months to decide, but everyone was so grim about the outcome that it felt like the end. The worst part is, I don’t know what she decided. I don’t know if she had the surgery, if she died, if she survived…
I’ve had plenty of dreams that blend with reality a little too strongly, but none so much as this. I texted my mom, spilled the dream to her and asked her why? Why on earth would I have a dream like that? She said to pray about it–not exactly comforting, to me, but she reminded me that God knows how I feel and He knows what He’s doing. Just because I dreamed it doesn’t mean it will come true, and even if it does, He might use me to be a good friend to her during that time. As I kept crying, half-praying, a song rose up, echoed through my mind. The Doxology:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Over and over, and I cried harder and harder. Her friendship is more of a blessing than I ever could have imagined. If I were still here below, and she above with the heavenly host, could I still praise Him? Despite my emotional state, I went on with this year’s Lenten practice of the morning part of my devotions. The daily prayer was from Hebridean Altars. The speaker says that seven times he asked God why he was here on this earth, and what there might be to grow him when he’s bound to his toil. And God answered him, “I cannot do without thee. Once did My Son live thy life, and by His faithfulness did show My mind, My kindness, and My truth to men. But now He is come to My side, and thou must take his place.”
I read the daily prayer three times, and not once could I get through it without breaking down into tears all over again. It was too close to my mother’s counsel, too close to offer any comfort. My morning devotions left me with one verse that I offer also to you because it is as much as I have to hold on to right now.
Psalm 62:4–Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.